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WEEKEND’S TO REMEMBER #25-SOME MORE PACKING/ORGANIZING AND FATHER’S DAY FUN

This will more than likely be short and sweet as not much is happening.

Saturday we did some camper organization and some weight distribution and some more boxing stuff up.

Covid cases are up and we aren’t really interested in hanging out, or should I say in. For Father’s Day, Mike, my best friend and the best Dad to our children, wanted to go to the beach, so the beach we went, the beach is not my fav place, hard to believe a Floridian who doesn’t like the beach except for a nice sunrise or sunset, but it was Father’s Day so I couldn’t say no. We met Nancy, Mark and Nya there as well. The beach of choice was Ft. Desoto. We got out there early enough but there was still a line to get in. Nancy said it was an hour for them to get in and they were only 15 minutes behind us. I am guessing head count is what the jam is all about. We went to the side of the beach that is usually less crowded and as expected it was, after all we are trying to do our part. After we started feeling a little crispy we left and it was time for lunch. We brought lunch with us, so Mike and I went to the shaded picnic area found a table and ate lunch. We attempted to walk the little nature trail but this is mid June in Florida the bugs chased us off. I got some great pics and played around with some different lenses.

After we were done at the beach we headed home, got cleaned up and headed to Mom and Dad’s for dinner. We brought Sonny’s with us and had a nice evening. We were able to Zoom with Annette which thrilled the parental’s.

So all in all it was a nice sort of productive and fun weekend.

Until next time,

Hope

My bestie
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Weekend to Remember (24) Cabin and the start of moving on up and out….

We loaded up the box trailer with the first load of stuff we are keeping and headed to the cabin. Our goal was to get the bathroom completed, storage shelves in place and then possibly build some of the shop and continue on working on clearing some of Nick’s property. Mike continued on the bathroom while Nick and I worked on the property. By the time we were done working on the property (because we were hot, tired and sore but mostly hot) Mike was done with the bathroom so they unloaded the trailer and while they continued working on some outside stuff I started going through the boxes I packed months ago. Mostly pictures that are stored on the shelves and albums, which are stored in the main cabin and a lot of stamping supplies. So much stuff, that I am not sure if I will ever use the stamping stuff to justify keeping it. Maybe after a year if I don’t use it I will get rid of it.

Downsizing is somewhat problematic, after all I have lived in my house nearly 33 years and have accumulated that much crap as well. And really do we need, totally guessing here, 50+ pint glasses that we have collected from the different breweries? I think not, so while we don’t want to get rid of them all, we also have regular glasses at the cabin. So the plan is to bring up the pint glasses, after all they remind us of fun places, and change them out with the boring regular glasses. But we are only replacing and not taking them all up, the rest maybe we will give away as parting gifts. I also have this owl cookie jar, it is an antique for sure, while I want to keep the cookie jar, I am 100% sure I don’t need to keep the contents of it. We have begun calling it the DNA cookie jar. The owl sits on this shelf above the refrigerator and when the kids were little and would lose their teeth we (or should I say the tooth fairy) would put the teeth in there. Also what could be found in there is undeveloped film. I have no idea from what era they are from but they are gone. So needless to say downsizing is difficult. This is just one example. But I am taking the approach does this particular item bring me joy, if the answer is no, it’s just taking up space.

Another huge, super huge, downsizing issue for me is, besides making cards (stamping, etc.), my biggest hobby is photography. I love, love, love taking photos, always have (true story one week in Yellowstone =~1459 pictures-ones I had to have all of them developed because there wasn’t digital), that hasn’t changed, except for the fact I can now choose what I want to print, which is somewhat a difficult situation for me. Not to mention, printing and sharing is what I like to do. Not sure what I am going to do with all the photos but yet I still print. I am now giving some away as gifts (sorry for all my family who is running out of wall space but…) and will be reopening my Etsy store to hopefully sell some as well and figured this is something I can do while on the road. Be on the look out for my Etsy Store announcement.

This is just my issues with stuff, I am getting rid of a ton and besides the pictures and homemade things (like quilts and needlecraft, paintings and things) I don’t really have much of an attachment to anything else. Mike on the other hand doesn’t have the same attachment issues (except with his tools of course and we are building him a shop for them). But yet he still has a lot of stuff. So do we plan on a garage sale (uggggg) or Facebook Market Place or just dump the stuff? This is the questions we continue asking ourselves.

Now while we are working on the cabin and getting it ready we need to work on our current home to get it ready to sell. We have inside work and outside work. While we just repainted the outside last year we don’t need to do that however, the inside needs work. Mike says he can knock it out in a short time and we will plan on moving into the camper by the middle of September so that we can get it done. I have started doing somethings so far, like starting taking the wallpaper off the wall, emptied out one bedroom and organized the bike room.

Anyway, while up at the cabin this past weekend we accomplished a lot and are moving right along, including Mike and Nick doing the framing of the floor for the shop. Plus we even took sometime and headed down and walked the US 90 Bridge, took a ride on a country road, saw some great boondocking spots, not sure if I would bring my camper down there but if I had a van or wanted to tent camp I would be so on it.

It seems like we always start building in the summer, like always. I might mention that summers are not the funnest time to be in Florida. Since the property is in the middle of north Florida (Florga as we like to call it) there are no sea breezes and we found that if it is hot in St. Pete it is hotter at the property. So needless to say it was hot and omg buggy up there. We will have to go up often like at least every other weekend so that we can accomplish what we want to get done by September and in the meantime continue to work on our house in St. Pete and any other modification to the camper that still may need to be done (not much now).

After this past weekend we feel accomplished.

Until next time,

Hope

Some boxes. It’s a beginning.
Our bathroom with storage and composting toilet.
Clearing the property
Highlight of the weekend.
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FINALLY SOMETHING DIFFERENT-WE WENT CAMPING FOR THE FIRST TIME NOT IN OUR BACKYARD SINCE MARCH…..

Can you hear the excitement in my voice? Yes we did it, we finally were able to venture out for the weekend and camp beyond our backyard. We had these reservations for about 6 months or so and weren’t sure if they were going to actually happen or be cancelled but THEY DID HAPPEN!!!! It was even the usual crowd of Nancy, Mark, Nya, Nick, Mike, Eris (the lowrider camping hound) and I, we all headed to Silver Springs State Park. I did a campground review about this park previously and I will say it is still a favorite of ours. It was so nice to have a slight bit of normalcy, even if it was a little different. Of course the big deal this weekend was the questionable weather as there was a tropical storm in the Gulf and we were on the rain side of it, but we didn’t let that stop us. So rain it did, but the wind wasn’t that bad in the middle of the state and we were able to keep the awning open a good portion of the weekend and it also kept the bugs away (mostly). While the little museum was closed (which we highly recommend) and the gift shop on the attraction side of the park, the glass bottom boat ride and the kayak/canoe rentals were open.

We were wondering how checking in would be to the campground. It was pretty much contactless. They stood back from the car and handed us our hang tag. They had ice and firewood (which was not needed-it’s June in Florida-not to mention the rain flooded out the firepits, sort of looked like mini swimming pools) on a donation, contactless operation.

We did walk around on the other side at the gardens and then we went back to the campsite, had lunch, hung out and worked our way back to the kayak/canoe rentals but when we got there apparently there was lightening happening an hour away so they couldn’t rent anymore out, so we decided to do the glass bottom boat tour. Which we were lucky enough to score the last tour due to the incoming weather. We were wondering how “safe” the boat ride was, it was very safe. We sat back from the boat captain and each party was separated by 6 feet. There was hand sanitizer available before and after entering the boat. The bathrooms were spotless. When we got back to the campsite the wind was picking up slightly so we started to put everything away as best we could and pulled the awning in and what was left out got hosed. We hung out and went to dinner. After dinner, Nancy, Mark and Nya headed home as everything was soaked and they knew they were not going to miss anything since it called for nonstop rain for the duration of the weekend.

This was the first time since a couple of upgrades we did to the camper that we towed our camper anywhere, we weren’t sure how our distribution was going to be. The Corona (all upgrades were the wall, with the TV and the fireplace and the addition of the bike rack with the bikes. We were a little concerned. While bringing the bikes was a waste of time and just gave us more stuff to clean when we got home the rack did well. I followed Mike back from his shop to the house and the bikes didn’t move at all. Nice and sturdy. I’m curious on how it will do on the Mississippi and Louisiana roads but we shall see. I am hopeful. The towing did great. But before we left for St. Pete, with all the rain, we forgot to fill our fresh tank so there was a little porpoising (very little) so we stopped at an Escapee’s park and filled up our water and the porpoising stopped.

As we were driving down the country roads heading back to St. Pete., I was happily realizing that soon we won’t have to make this trip, except to see family and friends, even with the crappy weather I was that thought that kept me smiling. We passed farms and you pick fields and was thinking of how nice it will be to be able to visit some of these places and not be in any hurry to get home to empty the camper, and get ready for work again on Monday. Soon that is what I kept and keep telling myself.

I must also say it was nice to be away from the the news even if it was short lived.

Well I am going to keep this one short and sweet, if you want to know more about Silver Springs State Park check it out here: https://whatrwewaiting4.com/2019/07/29/following-the-brown-signs-and-campground-review-silver-springs-state-park/

Until next time….

Hope

From the boat
A couple of turtles
Our bikes nice and secure (pic taken from my car)

LIFE WHILE ON THE NEVER ENDING HAMSTER WHEEL, WHAT IS THE CORONA VIRUS….AND THE CHANGES THAT ARE UPON US….

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I am not sure what week of my Weekend to Remember Series this is, as they are all blurring together and there is nothing new to talk about, which I am guessing is the new norm.  We are all on the perpetual hamster wheel of what we are calling life.   We are finally not under a stay at home order and things are starting to open up. This whole time  (besides not being able to hug the people I love-which I still miss) I thought I was missing being able to go to a restaurant, be waited on and drink a draft beer from a real glass and be able to leave the mess behind, however,  now that the restaurants are open, I am not in that much of a hurry, I am enjoying the space and used to just taking food home and eating it there.  It surprised me.  What I am grateful for, besides the obvious that all of my family and friends are healthy, is that I have a job and really never lost the job because of Covid.  I did get a new job during this time, which was weird in itself, to go to a job interview via Zoom and it all worked out.

Another thing I am grateful for with things opening up besides the ability to get a haircut is that our favorite brewery, 3 Daughters is now open for food and drink.  We were so missing  the ability to just go there and hang out.  A week before they officially opened with food and seats to sit on, we did our monthly 3 miles from 3D, (a monthly run) we got food from Chipotle, beer from 3D before they closed for the day (they were able to sell beer to go), went for a walk, came back and sat on the ground and ate our food in the empty parking lot. It was fun to do something that we used to take for granted.  I am super happy to report that they are now open, seats are spaced, and delicious food is being served and hard water, beer and ciders are being poured.  We couldn’t get there fast enough.  We did another 3 miles from 3D that first Wednesday they were reopened, while it was different it felt like going home.

State parks have begun opening, in this Phase 1 of the reopening of the country, for day use only at first and then on May 20, for camping.  We went for a great day hike on Mother’s Day, which was amazing to us, the smell of the fresh air, air not surrounded by concrete.  In “normal” years Florida has a short hiking season, where the temps are low or at least lower and the bugs are the least and the last few months were those months and we weren’t able to hike, but as soon as they opened up we were there.  We started off on beautiful morning, not too hot yet,  but as we returned to the car it was hot. We (my Mom, Mike, Jes, Chris, the four legged grands, Mark, Nancy, Nya and myself) did a nearly 5 mile hike, came back to a picnic lunch. The trails had people on it, all of us just trying to redirect our life on the hamster wheel.  I must say it was nice to be in the woods, get some fresh air and enjoy each other’s company. I got to hug my Mommy too.

Later that day we went to my inlaws, we stopped at Sonny’s grabbed some curbside pick up and brought dinner, watched a little YouTube (Traveling Robert’s Yellowstone, to be exact) and had a nice visit. We were even able to FaceTime Annette so she could wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day as well and be seen.

Some weekends we have been camping in our backyard since getting on this hamster wheel. We have been adding more stuff to the camper and getting ready for us to be able to hit the road.  Some parts of being on the perpetual hamster wheels have been ok, as we are able to concentrate on doing things to the house, camper and cabin that need to get done before we hit the road, which the date is coming up quick.

The normal hamster wheel looks something like this, we work all week, yoga Monday’s (oh how I miss yoga Monday’s), one Wednesday night a month, 3 miles from 3D, (we sort of made our own) one Friday am a month, dinner rides from our favorite bikes shops (Trek of St. Pete and ABC Bikes) (which they obviously had to be cancelled), oh how I miss those peeps, and for the last few years we have been camping at least one weekend a month somewhere not in our backyard.  So this staying home thing has enabled us to go to the cabin (we are self isolated up there, naturally), get some stuff done, to enable us to make it our future home base, work on the camper for things we want to get done and work on the house (which besides packing up some stuff not much has been done, yet). So staying at home has been somewhat productive.  But I must say it has been surreal.  

I went downtown a couple of weeks ago during the week just to get some photos of how things looked, during lunch time, during the week.  It was very strange.  It looked like we were expecting a hurricane, everything closed up, no tables out and pretty empty.  The few of us that were out were just walking or running for exercise but other than that it was empty.  Plenty of parking out there but of course nothing to do.

This past weekend it was a different story.  Saturday night Jes, Chris, Nick, the pups, Mike and I went to the dog beach at Ft. Desoto.  While I am no longer a huge beach person, I do love the sunsets and that night it did not disappoint.  It was crowded but again people kept their distance.  Sunday we headed downtown which was equally as packed but people seemed to be keeping their distances there as well.  We had breakfast at the Wooden Rooster, enjoying the outside tables as we are not ready to sit inside a restaurant just yet and besides the fresh air did us some good.

Some more positive outcomes with being on the hamster wheel  are changes that I have been making to assist us when we hit the road, I have upped my Zooming ability, which will assist me to be able to go remote,  working with someone on  a project that I can take anywhere (but can’t get started until all of this is over) I have decided to reopen my Etsy shop, and I have decided to become an Independent Wellness Advocate with doTerra. More about those changes to come. For now just trying to figure it all out and with all the extra time of not going out all the time having fun I am able to work on different projects that I have always wanted to get to.  

The thing I find most interesting about all of  this is the fact that the whole nation/world are all on the same hamster wheel, just trying to make it spin in the same direction.  We can speak to someone on the other side of the nation and ask them what’s going on and the answers are going to be about the same as what we are going through. It just proves that it is a small world and we are one in this world and fight.

Soon I will be able to get back to campground reviews and fun things on the weekends but for now it is what it is…. and until next time….

Keep spinning and stay safe….

Hope

Boyd Hill Preserve, St. Pete FL
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WEEKENDS TO REMEMBER #13, 14 AND 15, CORONA VIRUS, A BIKE RIDE, CAMPING IN THE BACKYARD AND TRIP TO THE CABIN

It’s a whole new world out there, as most of you we are self isolating, going out to stores only when essentially needed,  staying 6 feet away from everyone, washing the crap out of hands and trying our best to not touch our faces and also trying not to go insane.

How we come out on the other side of this Corona Virus pandemic remains to be seen, but I am sure we will each be a little different.  Maybe we realize that things we thought were essential aren’t really all that important anymore.  I know personally it has made me think of what is important in life but it also has made me miss certain portions of it that I took for granted, I miss our local breweries, local restaurants and I hope they survive this.  When all is said and done and things start opening up, I will be one of the first customers at my favorite brewery (oh how I miss you 3 Daughters), keeping my safe distance and enjoying a nice cold brew.

Anyway  we have been spending the this strange time differently.  We wonder what we can and cannot do to help us stay sane.  Week 13 took us on a bike date, a normal bike date would have had us at some breweries by early afternoon, but nothing was open, except for Wawa, so we got breakfast by bicycle and headed into Clam Bayou, where we had a lovely picnic of our breakfast Sizzlies, and then rode around, took the new extension trail into Gulfport.  We rode around there and saw all the new restaurants we want to go to after this is all over.  I had my camera so I took some great photos. The trail was fairly crowded but we kept our distance.  People seemed kinder, we all have this look of, mmmm, not sure what to call it, not necessarily fear but maybe uncertainty, whatever it is, it is a weird feeling.

Weekend 14 was a camping trip in our backyard.  Let me start this by stating that every month since we had the tiny camper, we had camping reservations somewhere. Living in Florida, these reservations were made months ahead of time,  sometimes close to a year in advance, but for whatever reason, I did not make any reservations for April or May this year.  As we were not socializing with anyone we decided to camp in the backyard.  I set up the “campground” just as I would if were were in a real campground.  The nice thing about it was the pet policy was very lenient, I was even able to give Eris, the lowrider camping hound, a bath in the bathhouse. Nick and Randy came over and had breakfast and lunch, all while keeping our safe distance of course. Mike worked on adding all the extras to the camper.  He redid the one wall with leftover flooring that our neighbor gave us, added a tv and a fireplace.  We didn’t go anywhere that weekend, and while I miss seeing someplace new and sightseeing it was really very peaceful and fun.    

Weekend 15 found us at the cabin.  Mike is finishing up the bathroom. It looks great. While we have had heat at home, and when we first got here, the first night got down to 45 degrees (that was in the morning when I got up).  Nothing else much to do except go on a wild flower walk.

That’s about all for the last three weekends.  While I still have to get out my blog on Savannah’s vacation, right now I just want to concentrate on what we can do and what we are doing during this crazy time. I miss my family, my friends and just want to around them and get hugs so Savannah’s happy trip will wait until the time  when we can all travel again.

So until next week, stay healthy, safe and wash your hands…oh and don’t touch your face.

Hope

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Weeks 4 & 5 of 52 Weekends to Remember

Week 4 took us to Swamphead Brewery in Gainesville where we attended the 3rd annual Wild & Scenic film festival presented by the Florida Trail Association. We had gotten reservations for Oleno State Park for one night and headed to the festival. It was a cold night but this year we were slightly more prepared for the evening that was predicted to be another cold one. We arrived at Oleno and hiked to the nature center and made it back in time to get ready to go to the festival. The festival consists of about 10 short adventure films that are generally quite exciting. The festival happens at a great brewery, appropriately named Swamphead (which happens to be Mike’s second fav brewery). After signing in we put our chairs down and got a cold beer and checked out the many vendor booths. It was a great night and great fun. We highly recommend if your in Florida the last weekend in January.

Week 5 took us to the cabin and we accidentally fell upon this location in the Twin Rivers State Forest. We headed down a long dirt road (glad we had the truck) to the very end which landed us at the Withlacoochee River. There were picnic tables there and I could see how one could boondock back there. We were there on a Sunday morning so no one else happened to be there but I imagine that it could be busy on other days for fishing, canoeing, possibly swimming and maybe camping.

I hope y’all enjoy weeks 4 & 5 in photos as much as we enjoyed taking them.

Travel on,

Hope

#52weekendstoremember; #travelphotography; #blogger; #sonya6000; #whatrwewaiting4

Swamphead and Oleno State Park
Twin Rivers State Forest

FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGN- BABCOCK RANCH ECO TOURS

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On December 8, 2019 for Mike’s birthday this year, I decided to take him someplace different so we headed to Babcock Ranch Eco Tours at Babcock Ranch Preserve for a swamp buggy ride.  The ranch is very large, 67,618 acres in Charlotte County, which is managed in cooperation with the Florida Forest Service.  It was one of the single largest purchases of conservation land in Florida’s history.  It has many diverse habitats, including prairie, and swamps,  hardwood forests, etc. While we were there we saw, deer, wild pigs (including cute, little piglets) Florida cracker cows, regular cows, alligators by the billions and tons of birds, including turkeys.  There is hiking opportunities but I believe the best way to see and learn about the vast preserve is to take the Eco Tour.

HISTORY: It was and still is a working ranch since 1914 which was comprised of 91,361 acres.  The Ranch produced timber, cattle, crops and sod.  In 2006  most of the preserve was sold to the State and the remaining is a private residential community.  The ranch today is still privately run but owned by the State.

THE TOUR: When arriving you walk down a little path to the visitor center.  We were welcomed by friendly staff, who like our narrator on the tour was passionate about their work.  There is also plenty to see right there, including caged (my favorite way to see them) snakes, and while we were there we saw Santa Claus and he was holding an alligator and then one of the snakes, there is a little museum which actually was a prop from a movie that was filmed there. There is a beautiful gift shop which sells all kinds of souveniers including  local honey, books, trinkets,  and much more.  We even got our picture taken with Santa with no snakes or alligators.

The Eco Tour is a 90  minute narrated tour which takes you through four different eco systems, including, you guessed it a swamp, which at this time of year was dry, which I think made for better wild life viewing, but we may have to go back when wet just to see.  The swamp buggies are really buses.   Our guide, Karlie, was a wealth of knowledge and passionate about her work and told us the history of the ranch, pointed things out that we might have missed, answered any questions we might have had.   The wild animals came up to the bus, as they obviously knew the sound of the buses, they came running, and waddling over to the bus for their treats they knew she had, except for the alligators of course. 

I think the Cracker Cows were my favorite, we learned that they are only bred to keep the breed alive.  The plentiful amount of  alligators was amazing to see all while safely on the bus.    Living here in Florida for most of my life one would think that seeing things like alligators would get old but it never does.    After the tour we went to eat at the Gator Shack where we had some amazing BBQ. Fair warning the portions are super large.  There is a walking tour however, after eating we were so stuffed we had a hard time even thinking about walking so decided that for the next time.  

THE COST: $24.00 adult, $23.00 for seniors, children 3-12 $16.00, 2 and under free.

Reservations can be made online, however they may have room if you didn’t make any plans and happen to be close enough, so give them a call at 1/800-500-5583.

LOCATION: 8502 FL-31, Punta Gorda, FL.  Turn at the bright flags that say Eco Tour and BBQ.  Turn down the road and keep driving to the end, can’t miss it.  You will pass a ton of  solar fields (which is pretty amazing on it’s own) and culverts which house many animals as well.

I left out somethings because I want to leave a little mystery to encourage other’s to head over to Babcock Ranch Preserve Eco Tours and experience it themselves.

Get out and see what the real Florida has to offer…

Until next time, follow a brown sign somewhere cool,

Hope

whatrwewaiting4.com

#babcockranchecotours; #realflorida; #followthebrownsigns; #sonya6000

 

 

CAMPGROUND REVIEW- FORT DESOTO PARK- Home Sweet Home….Not So Much

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When: October 18-20, 2019

Where: Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas County, Florida

Who: We organized this trip 7 months ahead of time. The we are Mike, Eris, the lowrider camping hound, and I on one site, Joe and Caren (who couldn’t come) on another, Annette and pups on another site and Cheri on another site and friends had an additional 4 sites.

Weather was supposed to be crappy, which we sort of figured even when were making reservations as we were camping with Joe. It always rains when Joe is camping. However, he outdid himself this time with a tropical storm. Because of the storm people canceled and there were a lot of empty sites.

Why check this place out, let me start and tell you why we will never come here again. Let’s start with the check-in: Fort Desoto is a Pinellas County Park, where I grew up, and am still a resident for a little longer, I went to plenty of parties here, my favorite beach of all time, I even camped here before. Location is conveniently located less than 10 miles from my sticks n’ bricks. I have been a Pinellas County resident for most of my life, went to school here, got married here, raised my children, etc., I am sure you get the point, it’s the county that is my home. As County residents we are able to make reservations 7 months ahead of time. That is the only benefit we receive, no discounts, no early checkin and no late checkouts. Just the ability to make the reservations one month earlier. When we were planning the trip 7 months earlier I made reservations for Annette (who is formally of Pinellas County, born and raised) using my address. At the same time Mike made reservations for us using our address. Now keep in mind we had a total of 8-9 campsites reserved by friends of Chery and Joe. The only one who didn’t live in Pinellas was Annette. Also, there was no where on the website that stated that only one reservation per address is allowed nor did their crappy website pick up on the fact that two reservations were made from the same address for the same weekend. I understand this rule- actually I don’t understand why my husband and I cannot reserve two sites as they aren’t giving us anything extra and we are paying for two sites and if that is a rule then it should be stated somewhere. Anyhow, we show up and they gave us grief and that was when we were checking in. At one point I was ready to say that’s fine give us our money back and we will leave now, leaving them with two more empty sites, as a lot of people were canceling due to the impending weather and they can try and fill it.

Secondly, there is no alcohol consumption allowed in the park. Not even on your site and they encourage people to tattle on others. There is fat fine for those who are caught with alcohol $118.00 ish per drink. I don’t really care that much if I want a drink I can always drink it inside my camper. However, when you are paying $40.00 per night for a campsite you should be able to sit at your picnic table while eating and have an adult beverage.

Thirdly, after weathering out a tropical storm we went ahead with our plans of a pot luck dinner at Chery’s site, which compared to most of ours was the driest. We carried all our food down there (love my wagon) and Joe drove down as he had an extra tables and grill. Shortly, after eating we were sitting around in a circle and chatting and the ranger came over and said only two vehicles allowed, all three were all on the site and not an inch of any of them were in the road. Joe said ok he would move his back down to his site, ranger asked which site, he told him and that the only reason it was there was to transport the tables and such, instead of the ranger saying that’s fine just make sure it is moved by the end of the night he made him move it. One would think that would make the ranger move on but no, he was nosy and was trying to see if any of us had any alcohol. Keep in mind we aren’t young people average age was probably 45-50, we weren’t loud we were sitting around the, oh wait I was going to say fire pit, but that would be an extra fee, so just in a circle, which leads me to my fourth complaint the costs for lack services…

It was $40 ish dollars per night, not worth it to have to deal with the nasty, unwelcoming Park rangers, with their unbendable rules and to be nickeled to death. The only amenities they have are bathrooms with showers, picnic tables and grills on each site and dump.

Finally, my last complaint is the amount of pet sites. There are 236 sites only 78 are open to pets, leaving 158 sites for the pet less folks, hence the problem with getting a site. I don’t have as much of a problem with this, however, the pets are not allowed to even be walked beyond the pet area, again not very welcoming to say the least.

So reasons to go, the views, not so much in the campground as outside. There is a nice trail that will take you to the beach, which I may be partial are the best beaches. There is a fishing pier and a fort to explore. So biking, walking, fishing and exploring the the beach are the reasons. Oh and believe it or not it even has a dog beach.

I will keep my Ft. Desoto trips to day trips only.

That being said even with all the negatives it was still fun to camp with friends, we brought our propane fire pit, and made s’mores while standing under the awning in the rain, there was mud for the dogs to walk through, and had shared meals with others and made some new friends. However, the next trip I would suggest we hop over the Skyway and go to Little Manatee River State Park and rent as many sites as we want, where the rangers are pleasant and the hosts are as well.

Until next time, happy camping,

Hope

Whatrwewaiting4….

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CAMPGROUND REVIEW-TORREYA STATE PARK

Mike, Eris, the lowrider camping hound, and I went to Torreya State Park in Bristol, FL on August 31, 2019 through September 4, 2019.

There are many reasons to check out this place, one of which is the hiking, and the views. We have been there before to backpack and if one went there blindfolded when the blindfold was removed one would swear that they were dumped in North Carolina not north Florida. When we came in 2003 it was very different then this year. In 2003 we did the Torreya Challenge hiking trail which it was very challenging and very beautiful.

This year however it was very different. Only about 3 miles of the trails are left now after the 2018 Hurricane Michael destroyed the area. The best way to describe it was that Mother Nature picked up all the trees and just dropped them. Reminded me of a game of pick up sticks. The trails are slowly being rebuilt but not sure if they will be restored in my lifetime. There were signs at the entrances of what was once a trailhead saying to stay off the trails as they were destroyed when 155 mile per hour winds came through the park. This might be a good time to mention that this park is not on the coast it is about 80ish miles away. Hard to imagine being that far away from the coast and being hit with a category 5 hurricane. The surrounding neighborhoods were nearly destroyed. Most houses had a new roof, needed a new roof or were abandoned. I felt horrible for the residents, as it seems like all the help that did come went to the wealthier areas such as the beaches and this area was forgotten about.

But back to the campground review. What thankfully did remain and had minimal damage was the Gregory House. It is a mansion built by Jason Gregory, who was a prominent plantation planter in 1849. It stood across the Apalachicola River from where it is currently. The river served as a “highway” during the Civil War. However, after the war Mr Gregory moved away and the house had seen hard times. One of the daughters did move back to the home, restored it and lived there until her death. When the state park was created in the 1930’s the Neal Lumber Company donated the home to the park as a gesture of support for the park. It was taken apart and moved across the river to the park for reconstruction on the bluff where it remains today. The CCC carefully put it back together and they even used the original wood pegs instead of nails. There are tours given daily and it is well worth the little fee of $2.00 per person.

While we were there every morning I hiked down and then back up to the Gregory House to see the magnificent views, which were plentiful.

The park is named after the rare Torreya tree, which can only be found in north Florida, California and China.

The campground is very different from most of Florida’s state parks. It too is on a bluff with a deck with an awesome overlook. The sites (1-15) themselves are small and do not offer much privacy as they almost touch the neighbors, but it was good and so nice to explore the area. There is also a yurt and a cabin which can be rented. There is a bathhouse which has toilets and showers as well as a shower house. We did do the few trails that were open, but it was sad to see the damage that remained from the hurricane.

We explored Apalachiola National Forest, which I highly recommend. By the looks of it the forest faired better than their northern neighbors during Michael.

We will return sometime as there is still much to see. Hopefully for all the residents and future visitors things will get rebuilt soon.

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PHOTO HIKE-Brooker Creek Preserve -10/26/2019

My friend, Marci and I attended a photo hike at Brooker Creek Preserve. Our guides opened our eyes to look at the environment around us differently. We saw things we may have otherwise overlooked. I believe I can speak for both of us when I say we learned a lot about the park and about photographing nature.

Brooker Creek Preserve is located in Pinellas County and is owned by the County government and Southwest Florida Management District. It is 8700 acres and is the largest natural area in Pinellas County. Entrance to the preserve is open at 7:00 am consists primarily of forested wetlands and pine flat woods. Mike and I had hiked there previously on a couple of occasions however both of our hikes resembled swims more than hikes. This time what we hiked was dry but we were not able to go on all of the trails as there was a wildfire there not long ago so some of the trails were closed. So maybe next time. What we saw this time was pretty amazing.

Visitors can start their day at the Nature Center and get trail maps, hit the trails and be sure to return to the Nature Center to check out the exhibits and the gift shop. There are also guided hikes quite often. I highly suggest checking out the schedule. Leaving the Nature Center there are boardwalks and nature trails. While we were there, there was flowers in bloom and we saw some birds but next time we will try and get there as the gates are opening because that’s when the wildlife is there.

This park can be enjoyed by all ages. I highly recommend it for people with young children and for the old as well. So when in the area be sure to check it out.

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CAMPGROUND REVIEW-Little Manatee River State Park

We went for a quick weekend down to Little River State Park in Wimama, Florida.

We arrived on Friday August 16, 2019 and left on Sunday, August 18, 2019.

The attendees were Mike, Nick Eris, Jodie and I on site 20 and Steve, Rosie, Jax and Mia on site 2.

It was nice and close to home and easy to get to. We had a ton of rain prior to our arrival so everything was flooded. The river was too flooded to kayak on so we will save that for next time and the trails were too flooded to be hiked upon so we will save that for another time as well. Even though we couldn’t go hiking or kayaking we still had a nice time.

The campground has some nice size sites but ours was small. Glad we didn’t have anyone else cuz we were pretty squished. The bathroom was under construction so they had the portable ones with a showers. They were neat and tidy.

We have been here plenty of times to do the 6.5 mile stacked loop on the north side of the park, which have been called muck and roots previously. We didn’t even attempt to go there since the trails on the campground side were flooded we could only assume the other side was worse. The campground side also has 15 miles of equestrian and multi purpose trail that was mostly under water. There is equestrian camping here as well.

Normally this is one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in southwest Florida but since it was so swollen it was hard to see. We have also paddled this many years ago and had a great time.

Even though we could not use all of the park we still had a great time. Camping with family and friends is always great. We will return as it is super close to home and easy to get there and maybe next time we will be able to participate in all the park has to offer.

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FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGNS AND CAMPGROUND REVIEW-Silver Springs State Park

This is going to be a combination of Following the Brown Signs and a campground review as they are one in the same. Let’s start with the

CAMPGROUND REVIEW:

The Who: Mike, Eris,the lowrider camping hound, Nick, Jodie and I went for a weekend of seeing the very first Florida attraction.

The Where: Silver Springs State Park, the campground entrance is located at 1425 NE 58th Avenue, Ocala, Florida.

The When: July 19-21, 2019

The Lowdown: We headed up on Friday afternoon. Not too far from the house so we were able to make it before the park closed. Always a positive thing. After setting up we went to El Toro Mexican Restaurant. The food was authentic and fabulous, it is on Silver Springs Blvd in Ocala. After dinner we headed back to the campground and walked around what I like to call a cracker village. Took the pups for a walk and went to bed. After a nice sleep we started our day with another walk and then to Silver Springs (the attraction). I will go into more details of all there is to offer in the following the brown signs segment. Just know that 2 days is not enough time to see all there is to see.

The Campground: The campground has 59 campsites, that can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet, with 50/30 amp service. There are some with full hook up but all have electric and water. There are two sections each with 2 loops. There are many pull through sites. Which is what we opted for. When making reservations I wasn’t sure if we would make it before dark so for the ease of pulling in, possibly in the dark, I opted for the pull through. Not sorry at all. We had a great site in with our living area facing the woods. There are also 10 beautiful cabins for those who don’t want to camp. Our Verizon and Nick’s AT&T worked flawlessly.

The Reasons to Go: There is so many reasons to go, which I will get into more details in the following the brown signs, but there is paddling, hiking, a museum, a spring, a nearby fort and who wouldn’t want to see the first Florida attraction.

Let’s get to the Following the Brown Sign:

This has been a natural landmark since the 1870’s.

History: Florida’s oldest attraction with glass bottom boats which showcase the crystal clear springs and underwater life. It is also the gateway to the Ocala National Forest. In 1971 it was designated s National Natural Landmark which offers a wealth of cultural and historical significance. This is shown through the displays above and below the water. Native Americans lived there and there is tangible evidence of their existence above and below the water. There is a dug our canoe that can be seen at the bottom of the river (Silver River). The Spanish (deSoto) visited the area and it is thought that was the first European to experience the park. There are a vast collection of natural habitats.

In 1985 the state bought 5000 acres of undeveloped land. In 1987 they turned it over to the Department of Rec and Parks and created Silver River State Park.

The Silver River Museum was the only thing developed in 1987 when the State acquired the property. In 1999 they built the ranger station, then the cabins and campground.

In 1993 the state purchased the headwaters Silver Springs and it was controlled by the previous owners. In 2013 the Florida Park Service acquired management of the headsprings area and at that time the name changed for the entire park from Silver River State Park to Silver Springs State Park.

About the park: The Park is split in two parts. The campground area, which has the many hiking trails and the Silver River Museum and the cracker village (a collection of old homes, school, store, church, etc.) and the Springs side, which houses the actual attraction of the glass bottom boats, a little museum, restaurant, ice cream shop, canoe/kayak rental, gift shop. The park is open 365 days a year, 8 am to sundown. The museum is open to the public on weekends and state holidays, 10 am to 4 pm. To get into the museum it is the usual state park entrance fee which at Silver Springs is $8.00 per carload. There is a $2.00 per person fee to get into the museum. On the spring side of the park, parking is free and entrance fee is $2.00 per person. However, if you are staying in the campground the entrance fee is free. The glassbottom boat ride is $11.00 per person for 30 minute ride (which we feel is long enough) they do offer a 90 minute ride as well. There are walkways where the monkeys are seen. The monkeys are known to throw poop so I was glad we did not see any. Kayaks can be rented. Since we did not get to rent the kayaks I will save that for another time. There were tons of movies made here.

On Sunday we went to the museum and then we headed over to Fort King which is down the road a bit just to check it out. It was interesting but not too much to write about.

There is a ton of history in the area and a ton to learn about.

We did not get to do everything the park has to offer and will return. The winter would be a much better time to go. I can see why the park is a favorite of many.

Till next time… Hope

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CAMPGROUND REVIEWS, FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGN AND ALL BECAUSE OF YOUTUBE

Campground Reviews:  This section will be short and sweet, because the campgrounds weren’t what this trip was about.  There were two, but it was mostly a place to lay down our heads and sleep.  So let’s get started shall we?

Mike and I  left Wednesday, June 26 after work and headed to Ellaville “RV PARK”, I use that term very loosely because it was about 8 pull through sites, with no amenities  right on US 90 with full hookups and made for the perfect place for us to pull in, plug in and hit the sack and get a good nights sleep at 11:00 p.m., when we arrived.  We would have stayed at a Walmart but June, nearly July in Florida is not exactly conducive to getting a good night sleep without ac.  Ellaville is a ghost town on US 90 about 4 miles from our property and right next to the Suwannee River State Park, which we highly recommend.  One might ask why we didn’t stay there, short answer is we just wanted to sleep with ac for the night so this fit the bill perfectly and was only $20, which we put in an envelope and placed it in the electric outlet when we left.  It was super easy to pull in, pull out.  After we woke up we had breakfast and hit the road.  But before leaving we heard a loud crash, I thought it was ice cracking and Mike thought it sounded like glass breaking.  I will tell more about what that was later.  When we were ready, we started our journey westward to our target destination, Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama.

Rainbow Plantation is an Escapees RV Park.  This is the first one we stayed at.  Price was reasonable and was recommended as one the of the places to stay by Kyle and Olivia, best known  as Drivin’ & Vibin’, which was the reason to go to Alabama to begin with for their reveal of the Airstream Argosy, which is beautiful, more on that later as well. Back to the review of the campground.  Each site has full hookup, which was a first for us, well the night before we had full hookup but that didn’t count since we didn’t even unhook from the truck.  Our site, number 46, was in the middle of the trees.  There was a fabulous looking pool, which we did not use, a clubhouse with activities, which we did not attend,  because we weren’t there for the campground, we had other intentions.  The campsites did not have picnic table nor a fire ring, (not that we needed a fire anyways it was a) too, too, too hot, b) we weren’t staying at the campground except to eat and sleep and c) it was way too wet to even get a fire started). We did  set up our carpet, chairs, and table, opened the awning and headed to LuLu’s.  Next time, we will plan on bringing bikes and use the pool.  It was a nice stay and wish it was longer.  That’s pretty much it on the campground review, on to the Following the Brown Signs…..

We only got to follow two brown signs on this trip.  The first one was  Falling Water’s State Park.  It is known as one of Florida’s hidden treasures, with a 73 foot waterfall.  However, it needs to rain a lot for there to be any water actually falling, it was a trinkle.  We have been here before when the girls were young and we had the same result, no water falling at the waterfall.  Oh well, maybe next time. I was also able to get my Florida State Park passport stamped.   While there we checked out the campground.  The campground is located on one of the highest hills in Florida.  It is 324 feet above sea level.  We almost needed to get oxygen for the journey, just kidding.  The campground was just ok, with smallish sites and a weird layout and  there are many other’s I want to stay at before staying there but it was good to check it out.  The park itself is very pretty with steep hills, which is surprising in Florida. To get to the waterfalls there are boardwalks to get you down to it. It was too hot for us to explore too much so we got in the truck and headed out of the park, if we didn’t have a destination to get to we might have gone for a swim. Heading out of the park our engine brake came on, which we didn’t even know it had.  So that was interested and reassuring.  So west we headed. The other brown sign and I am not even sure it is a brown sign but we will call it that happens on Friday at the Gulf State Park in Alabama.  More of that to come.  Back to journey as we head west.

After a longish ride we finally made it to our destination, it was near 3 p.m. which was perfect as the office was closed until that time even though our paperwork was on the bulletin board awaiting our arrival.  We set up camp and headed to LuLu’s, where Kyle was playing (not only are Olivia and Kyle talented YouTube creators they can also sing and have a band).  Since we like live music and are fans of these super talented young people we did what was natural and headed to LuLu’s, which is also perfect because Mike being the parrothead that he is, and this is Jimmy Buffett’s sister’s place, and it also helps they have beer.  We arrived there near 5 and the place was packed, and if we wanted a table we would have had a 3 hour 45 minute wait, luckily the bar is first come first serve and we could also order food there.  Our seats were perfect and overlooked the stage.  After a few songs Mike went down and introduced himself to Kyle and told him we were part of the “Vibe Tribe” and were in town for the reveal.  During the break Kyle cme up and sat with us for a bit, which was totally awesome.

We headed back to the campground (oh by the way traffic sucks there just as much as it does in St. Pete/Clearwater), the wind was picking up and there were some serious thunderstorms in the distance, and all we could think of how we were stupid to leave the awning out on the camper, which we knew better but it was like 0% chance of rain. We couldn’t get back fast enough and were hoping our awning was ok.  Which thankfully it was.  The rain came down like buckets and the wind was crazy.  When we pulled up Mike hit the fob on the door, from the truck, (one of our newest additions to the camper-keyless entry, oh yeah) and we headed in, pulled the awning in, we sat up for a bit (cell service sucked) and hit the hay.  In the middle of the night, the rain and wind were super crazy, at one point  I thought we were  on the boat.  I thought for sure when we got up in the morning the table and chairs would be scattered across the campground.  I am guessing the trees offered some sort of protection as all was good in the morning and the stuff was mostly dry.  This is the time I will fill you in on the loud crash we heard back in Ellaville, we think it was ice melting in the ac.  When we got up, the compressor wasn’t working well if at all. We figure the ac froze up, without our ladder there was no way to tell for sure.  I cooked breakfast outside so not to heat up the place and we ate at our little table.  Before leaving to do some touristy things we turned the ac off.

Our first touristy thing to do that day was to go to Buc-ee’s.  What is Buc-ee’s you ask? It is a huge and when say huge I mean HUGE or SUPER HUGE gas station.  Yes it is a gas station on steroids, with over 100 gas pumps  but only for private cars, campers and such.  Not sure if any of them have the ability for 18 wheelers to come in but this location did not.  It has a huge store with beef jerky, pastries, and sandwiches.  They have clothes and of course touristy like gifts as well. After our trip to Buc-ee’s we headed to Fairhope, which took us to  Warehouse Donuts.  We got a couple little sandwiches, a donut (Mike’s choice) and a cinnamon bun (my choice) to go.  Warehouse Donuts is a nice place with amazing food besides just donuts.

After Warehouse we headed to the beach, which may or may not be considered a brown sign, we will call it one just the same.  Gulf State Park, Alabama, which was another suggested location to camp at.  However, in retrospect we are content where we stayed because it was closer to where we wanted and needed to be.  Gulf State Park is one of the 4 best state parks in Alabama that is listed in our National Geo’s State Park Guide.  Anyway, as the name implies it is on the Gulf of Mexico with 2.5 miles of white-sand beach, it has boardwalks that connect the very large campground (496 sites), 20 cabins and 11 cottages to the beach. However, if you are staying in the campground there are bike paths that can take you there as well.  The campground is on the other side of the road, so the boardwalks make it a safe journey if you are going by bike or walking.  After paying our little entrance fee ($2.00) into the park we headed to the Nature Center (which is free), what we found weird was we drove straight through the campground, some of the sites are right on the road.  The campground is nice but the sites are sort of close to each other and being that it is on the beach in the open.  By the Nature Center there is a large pavilion where we ate our lunch that we purchased at Warehouse.  The cinnamon bun was amazing, which I of course shared with Mike (there was no way I could have eaten it by myself anyways).  Sitting under the pavilion was very pleasant.  The temperature was about 20 degrees cooler.  There is a huge laundry room and a campstore, with basic stuff and campground gifts.  We went to the Nature Center  which was cool it had the basic animals like snakes, turtles and some birds.  There is also a huge pool, which probably has a separate charge for, we didn’t check it out because we wanted to see the beach.  It was super hot so we opted to drive over instead of taking the long hike over.  When we arrived there were big heads to pay for parking.  There was a solar equipped building at the top of the parking lot and it had also another huge pavilion.  There were beautiful boardwalks to take us to the beach.  Which was very beautiful with the white sand.  We hung up out for a bit, waded in the water and headed back to the truck.  We decided to go check out the pier while we were there. The pier is the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico.  Parking was free but when we got out to the pier there was a fee to head to the end.  We saw enough and it wasn’t close to sunset so we figured why pay  and we headed back to our campground.  We may come back there someday to camp but only if we plan on hanging out there for most of the time.

There are some trips that are centered around the campground but this was not one of them. The wind was picking up again and the rain had started by the time we got home.  We put the ac on and it worked flawlessly (maybe turning the temp up a little bit may have helped-still not sure).  We cooked dinner of tacos and thought we might head into Fairhope to go to the brewery.  Lucky for us we were finally able to get Google Maps to work and it said it was closed, so with nothing really to do we stayed at home.  This would have been a good evening to sit outside and enjoy the campground had it not been for the rain.

Saturday morning, we woke up to a nice cool camper, but to be on the safe side we turned the ac off prior to leaving.  Today was the big day, the reveal of the Argasy and the reason for our trip to begin with.  We headed down to Fairhope for Warehouse Donuts, this should not surprise anyone, and had a delicious breakfast of biscuits, I had chicken and Mike had some meat and eggs.  We then went to Fairhope Brewery where the morning program of the reveal was.  After meeting some very nice folks and hearing the presentations we headed to Big Daddy’s where the reveal was actually going to be. We are all at different stages of our journeys, but we are all heading in the same direction.  We had lunch and mingled, had a presentation from Dennis the CEO of  Battleborn Batteries and if were weren’t before we are now convinced lithium is the way to go, so before hitting the road we will be getting a couple if not four Battleborn lithium batteries.  After talking to people Mike wanted to upgrade our suspension components on the trailer (Moryde).  That is exactly what he is doing now as I write this.  Then we got the reveal we all got to go in and check out the Argosy. It is so beautiful and they did an amazing job. It is not something I would want to undertake ever.  After the reveal we had a little over an hour to kill before the live music back at the brewery.  A few of us headed to the Fairhope History Museum, oh wait this could be considered a third brown sign, so there were three brown signs afterall.

Fairhope History Museum is a free museum that explains the history of Fairhope and how it is the oldest single tax colony in the US.  What is the Fairhope single tax? It refers to an economic principle where the government taxes only land (rent), a single tax, no taxes on one’s labor/wages or capital.  The land was/is owned by a corporation and leased out  and a single tax was/is paid a/k/a rent.  Leases are for 99 years which is as secure as a deed for the lessee.  Major funding of the library, Museum, hospital, college  and other places are examples of the building projects provided because of the single tax, which while modified has survived.  The museum was interesting, it used to be the fire department, mayor’s office and the police department with it’s two cell jail.

After the museum we walked around Fairhope for a bit.  Fairhope is a quint southern town.  If we had time we would have walked to the pier but we will have to save that for the next time.  After a small tour  we headed back  to the brewery to listen to the band, have some good beer and just enjoy getting to know everyone else that was there for the reveal.  After the band was done playing they mingled with us and we ordered food from the food truck and were eating together. We hung out, got to know each other, exchanged numbers and are hopeful that we will see each other down the road again sometime soon. I looked around the table and brought it to Kyle and Olivia’s attention, that life long friends were made here today all because of YouTube.

It was a great long weekend and we hated to head back east but that is what we did on Sunday morning.  Soon our adventure won’t have to end with Monday morning’s alarm clock it will be the beginning, until then….

Hope to see you down the road sometime,  thanks for reading,

Hope

 

 

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FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGNS…..#2 CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY

As promised here is number 2 of the following the brown sign….

Following another brown sign on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019 was my Mother’s Day gift to me from my loving Husband and to my  bestest Mom, who is always up for an adventure.  This has been a place I have wanted to see ever since my old boss (circa 1999) told me all about it, yes finally after 20 years I finally got here.  They have events all year long, however, summer is upon us so the events will be slowing down until fall I imagine, or our perceived fall in Florida, even though it will be as hot as it was on Mother’s Day.  W.e will look at the calendar though and keep up with what is going on because they have things like night hikes, a night hike on the swamp will be amazing.

Corkscrew Swamp is a series of boardwalks located in the western part of the Everglades, even though we saw some hikes that are lead through the actual swamp, I don’t think I want to do that.  Corkscrew was established to protect the largest remaining stand of ancient bald cypress that are left in North America. During the 40’s and 50’s the cypress forests in Florida were being leveled for their timber, the National Audubon had protected the birds within Corkscrew back in 1912 and at that time realized that the forest must be saved.  In 1955 the first boardwalk  was constructed thanks to the National Audubon Society, who had accepted responsibility to manage the area.  When the area was acquired in 1954 it was impossible to access.  Today, visitors can enjoy the natural systems of the real Florida.

The location of this beautiful oasis is 375  Sanctuary Road, Naples Florida, their phone number is 239/348-9151.  The cost is adults ($14.00) (so worth it) children/student (6-18) $4.00 and children under 6 free, discounts for National Audubon Society members ($10.00) and Full-time college students ($6.00-must have id). The hours are 7 am to 5:30 p.m. every day,  the last admission to the boardwalk is one hour before closing time (4:30 p.m.).  We were warned about black/deer fly’s this time of year, we however did not encounter any or should I say they did not encounter us.

We arrived at 10:30 ish and went to the visitor’s center, which houses a gift shop, a cafeteria type restaurant, and a exhibits as well as movie.  As we were there to hit the trails/boardwalk we decided that we would do all of that when we returned.  The boardwalk is 2.25 mileish along the swamp.  It is so green and lush and most thankfully were tree covered and shady.  The boardwalk starts out on the prairie but as soon as we got across the prairie, the big, beautiful trees take over and it becomes a shady hike, still hot but at least it is shady.     Besides the old trees and plants the wildlife was amazing.  We saw  barred owls, (2), an otter (which sadly he was too quick to get a pic), wood stock (a young one), anhingas, lizards (bright green anole) a skink (too fast to get a good pic), assuming it is pig frog and a mamma gator and her 12 babies.  What I was happy I did not see was a pygmy rattlesnake.  The flowers were plentiful.  After the walk we headed back to the visitor’s center where we sat and watched the informative film and cooled down.  We had a great time and were told by my mommy that it was one of the best Mother’s Day she has had.

Bottomline, we will be back and we will be on the lookout for a special program like a night hike. I urge all visitor’s to Florida to come and see the real Florida and this is a great way to do it.

Hike on…. Hope

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Cary State Forest, Florida CAMPGROUND REVIEW

THE WHO:, Mike, me, Eris the lowrider camping hound, Nick, Jodie, Annette, Nora, Elsa and Sam, on two sites and the dogs outnumbered the humans as they usually do.

THE WHERE: Cary State Forest, Florida

THE WHEN: February 22-25, 2019

THE LOWDOWN: There are only 7 sites in this campground in this huge 13,385 acre forest, it is located in northeast Florida, near Jacksonville, there is hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.

THE CAMPGROUND: With only 7 sites in this huge forest there is plenty of room on and between the sites. Of the 7 sites, 6 have electric and water and one is primitive. Of the 6 that have electric and water only 5 of them can be reserved, leaving one as a walk-up/drive-up site.

When I say the sites are large, I mean super large. The each have concrete slab, picnic table, firepit. We had site #2 and Annette had site #3.

We went hiking, while the dogs were allowed on the trail, causing them (especially Eris the lowrider camping hound) to need baths when we returned. To say it was muddy in spots is an understatement.

There is a very nice bathhouse with two showers and a dump station conveniently located (not that we used it because we were in our tiny camper) at the beginning or end of the loop whichever way you look at it.

THE REASON TO GO: The peace and quiet that the woods have to offer is abundant here, even though there is an occasional train. While sitting at my campsite you can barely see Annette’s camper from here because of the distance. There are tall pines and palmetto scrub. The birds were singing and the smells of the pine forest cannot be beat. The hiking is plentiful and pretty, with boardwalks and some areas that have no boardwalks, hence the dogs getting dirty.

NOT MUCH DIFFERENT THEN LAST WEEK EXCEPT…..

Memorial Day Weekend found us at home entertaining, for the first time in forever, while some things were the same, some were different. Shan and Christian came down for a long weekend. Mike and I moved into the camper for the few days they were here. I must say, we sleep so well in the camper. Shan and I both became doTerra Wellness Advocates. We both love essential oils so it was just a matter of time before we actually got more involved. So her and I spent a good amount of time with Nancy getting to knows the ins and outs. On Sunday of the weekend we had everyone over, there were almost as many pups as there were humans. It was fun and great to see everyone. There were no hugs but at least we got to hang out together.

Our future plans do not include us taking Gilligan (our cat) with us. I would be afraid he would get out in some remote location and we would lose him. We already knew that going in, Annette was going to take him to Maine, however, our friends really want a pet, so we “lent” Gilly to them this past weekend. Gilly now has a new home. They love him (of course there is not much not to love about this little guy) and I know Nya will be a great cat mom. Sorry Annette but I’m happy he is staying a Floridian and I know you were just taking him to help me out, so you are off the hook.

We went to the cabin where Mike is about done with the bathroom. Nick and I busted our backs on his property and because so we can now drive back there with the truck and trailer. Which will make building the shop sooooo much easier. We have a gate between the properties and we are all secure. We cleaned up an area big enough for our camper or any other camper to park back there. We will keep chiseling away at it, little by little so that we can even make more room. There are trees to move and stumps to grind, we will get it done little by little.

We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant in town on Saturday night. They are open with 50% capacity. This was the first restaurant we actually sat inside to eat since March 15. We were debating about eating in or out, but we choose in as every other table was missing so we felt relatively safe. We came home and walked out to Nick’s property and saw one of the most beautiful sunrises.

Next time up we are bringing things that we are storing there and going to start the shop. Our hopes is to have that complete by Labor Day. Time is ticking sometimes slowly but sometimes quickly as we get ready to move on to our next chapter in our life.

Next weekend we are going camping, finally, we have had reservations since November and thankfully they are not cancelled. I did a campground review about Silver Springs previously, so I am curious as to what will be different between this weekend’s (Covid) trip from that trip (pre-Covid). I will do an updated review next week. We bought a bike rack and if Mike can get it installed on the camper before the weekend I will do a review on that as well.

The latest in the news is George Floyd, which was so sad that one human can treat another that way and murder them for the world to see and I understand why the non-white community would be angry. Hell I am white, vanilla white, and I was pretty pissed and couldn’t believe it. A human whoever, whatever race, nationality, religion, etc., should not treat another human that way. JUST BE KIND is what I say, the Golden Rule-wonder if some people have ever heard of that, treat others as to how you want to be treated. I think these were taught to us or should have been taught to us as young children. Where are people’s morals. Anyway, we were up at our cabin this weekend and as we were driving thru Tampa traffic stopped. We were wondering what was going on. After getting off the interstate and then back on miles up the road and seeing all the police presence Mike googled what was going on. There were riots happening in Tampa. I understand the right to protest, however, I do not understand what burning gas stations and looting the mall is going to do. Violence promotes violence. The peaceful protester’s message is now lost because all that can be seen is innocent people, and their businesses are being destroyed. I once worked for an attorney who said don’t trust the cops, which I don’t for the most part, however, what did the Tampa, Atlanta, NYPD, Chicago, and other police departments across the nation and even Portland Maine’s PD have to do with the unfortunate and senseless death of George Floyd? While I am not a big fan of the police, I do expect them to defend themselves against people who are attempting to harm them or others that they are supposed to serve and protect. This shouldn’t be a majority/minority issue, this should be a human issue. We as humans need to work together not against each other and solve these issues. There will always be bad eggs out there, like that piece of crap cop, that murdered George Floyd, but people need to not stoop to his ignorance and be bigger then him and find a solution and violence is not the answer.

Okay I am off my soap box, sorry about the rant but I would love for everyone to remember the Golden Rule and JUST BE NICE. One of the big joys of us being at the cabin, we didn’t know anything about the riots, except that they were happening in Atlanta because Shannon told us, other than that nothing else. Who says ignorance isn’t bliss? I believe sometimes it is exactly that.

Have a great week, hopefully next week will be a better report, and I will update ya’ll with a campground review of a Florida State Park, during the times of Covid.

Peace and stay safe,

Hope

Beautiful sunset at the cabin

THE NEW WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, EARTH DAY AND WEEKEND 16 OF 52 WEEKENDS TO REMEMBER

I believe all of us are sick of the Coronavirus and hearing speculations and confusing facts, I know I am. On Earth Day we can celebrate but not together from afar.

I went to the grocery store at lunch one day and after getting the gloves and mask on I headed in. The scene made me want to cry, everyone wearing masks and gloves and no one making eye contact with others, walking far away from people, avoiding isles so not to get too close. First thought was I have entered the twilight zone or the zombie apocalypse… it was surreal. It is interesting to know it’s not just happening here, it’s the whole world. Here in Florida we have our hurricanes and when we are shut down because of them people on the other side of the country don’t understand, just the same as we don’t understand what a snow day is. But I was speaking to tech support and the guy was in Arizona and we were able to relate with each other’s life because we were basically looking out the same window. I don’t believe we will go back to life as it once was, it will get better than it is, and hopefully we can stop dressing in hazmat suits to go to the store, but I’m sure it will never be the same, not necessarily bad but for sure different. There are certain things I miss, but mostly it’s the hugs. In person appointments. I had a job interview over Zoom. Strange times for sure.

Earth Day was weird this year, there were no normal celebrations. But I went for a walk that morning and thought what a beautiful day to celebrate the earth. Next year we will celebrate.

Weekend 16-honestly I’m losing track, good thing I write it down. 16 wasn’t much different then 15 except we were camping in the backyard instead of the cabin. We did go to Boyd Hill Nature Trail. Got some great pics and a tiny bit of exercise until the rain came. Mike worked on the camper some more and we look forward to being able to camp in other places besides the backyard. But it is what it is.

Tell me what your missing the most with the quarantine.

Stay safe, and healthy, carry-on and this too shall pass. Until next time,

Hope

Weekend’s to Remember 10, 11 and 12-Falmouth Springs, Cypress Creek Preserve and Covid-1

So this post is being presented to you from the inside of my camper, while only working part-time, and doing some social distancing….I started to write about weekends 8 and 9, about our vacation in Savannah and then as we all know we were hit the realities of  Covid-19, Corona Virus, whichever one your prefer to refer to it as.  I am sure I can speak for everyone, it has turned everyone’s lives upside down.  I will get back to my post about Savannah shortly but for now I just wanted to do a quick update as to weekend’s numbered 10, (Falmouth Springs) 11 (Cypress Creek Preserve) and number 12, the first weekend we were home for the social distancing.

Weekend #11 found us at the cabin to work on the bathroom. On our way home we stopped by Falmouth Springs.  We took a beautiful walk down the boardwalk.  I believe the boardwalk is longer then the river.  It is a beautiful area and brings back fond memories as to when we were building the cabin and did not yet have a shower, we would work in the Florida heat and then on our way home would stop there and take a dip in the refreshing spring.  It is known as the shortest river in the world. The spring bubbles from an underground cave and travels the length of the river about 450 feet and disappears through an opening at the other end.  It is one of the many first magnitude springs with a daily water flow of about 65 million gallons.  We have been there before with high water, very high water and it flows backwards.  The air temps ares about 10 degrees cooler down on the boardwalks because it is like being in a pit, with limestone walls and beautiful green tree coverage.  I think it is one of the best local secrets around.

Weekend 11 found us boondocking at Cypress Creek Preserve, which is a 7400 acre piece of SWFWMD (South West Florida Water Management District) property located on the outskirts of Tampa.  This is a beautiful lush spot, with shade and sun.  Reservations can be made on the SWFWMD’s website, 60 days ahead of time.  It was the beginning of the social distancing request. So not sure really what was happening, we didn’t change our plans and we were very glad we didn’t.  We may have seen maybe 10 other people there the whole weekend and that was even including my mom and brother who came out to have dinner with us.  There is a combination gate at the entrance of the property, which you receive the gate code when your reservations are confirmed. There is a walk gate for anyone who just wants to hike.   After entering the property there is about a mile, dirt road, and my one advise is to take it super, super slowly, to the primitive campground, unless you don’t mind your belongings being moved everywhere but where they belong in your camper.  There are two camping areas, a primitive (which is the one we stayed at) and an equestrian.  Both can handle big rigs,  have a port-a-potty and a covered picnic table area, so if we had a few people there we could all hang at the picnic tables.  Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring.  I believe there are three campsites in each area.  We got up each morning and walked and then again in the evening after dinner.  It was so peaceful and nice not to be listening to the never ending drama that was unfolding in the “real” world.

The breweries were still open so we figured why not let’s find one.  We went to In the Loop Brewing in Land O’ Lakes, which has an awesome vibe,  with a great courtyard and view.  There was no social distancing happening there.  We brought Eris the Lowrider Camping Hound, as it was too hot to leave her behind, and upon arriving she was the hit of the courtyard by the little people that far outnumbered the big people.  The average age was 2, maybe 3.  It was jammed packed.  We stayed for one and headed back to our peaceful campground.

Everything changed the following week, the world ended as we knew it, and all Florida State Parks closed for camping, and shortly after SWFWMD followed suit.  Hopefully, our world will get back to some sort of normal or at least the new normal will become clearer and reservations will be able to be made once again.  We plan on returning, maybe in November after summer, which apparently started in Florida in March this year, and after the new normal becomes clear once again. We highly recommend this campground.  We have yet to be disappointed with any of the SWFWMD properties, so check them out when you get the chance.

Weekend #12 Covid-19, so this weekend found us at home questioning things like what would be next to close and would I be working on Monday and would the suppliers that Mike uses be open….it was a weekend of uncertainty.  The breweries and restaurants were already closed and by the time of this writing anything that is a non essential business is closed.  However, besides the breweries and restaurants all the other businesses, including the law business, are considered essential, so I have a job and Mike can do his work as well.  We are socially isolating to a point, for instance in my job there is me and a few other employees and no clients, everything is done via email,  and Mike’s job is mostly a two person operation.  So business as usual for us except for the point that no one is hiring now in my field so I am underemployed and I am afraid that until this is over as I won’t be able to get full-time work.  We only have 44 weeks before we hit the road so we plan on hanging on until then.  Hopefully things will return to somewhat normal soon.

So the fun and different thing we did last weekend was we went to a food truck. One might ask what’s so different about that? I would answer by saying it was in one of the neighbor’s yards.  Food trucks are showing up in neighbor’s yards around the neighborhood.  We have met some neighbors, (from a distance of course) that we would normally not have met previously. I have met more people these last few weeks then I have met the whole time I have lived here, which is a very long time (as in 44 years).  So if there can be a silver lining to this, people are unplugging, going outside for fresh air a change of scenery and meeting new neighbors.  The food truck was the Surly Mermaid.  It was delicious and we will be hosting them in our yard on April 1st.  So if anyone is around come on by and get some delicious food and maybe meet some neighbors (at a distance of course) and try out the new normal.

Weekend’s to Remember-Weeks 6 & 7

Hard to believe how quickly time flies.  This weekend we are going into weekend number 12 and I am finally sitting down to write about weeks 6 and 7.  It’s been a busy time for sure between working at our cabin and the house and not to mention the camper.

Weekend #6 took us to the State Fair, where I was part of the Photo Safari.  I entered 20 pictures into a contest that I had taken at the state fair. While I did not win I still had a great time.  We are not ones to go to the State Fair and do the rides and this year was no different. We went and saw the animals, the crafts and the exhibits.  One of the exhibits that was there was the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society,  which we did not know it even existed.  However, we enjoyed that the most. Fun group of people and great entertainment. They were willing to share and teach us.    I see ukulele lessons in our future.  Ukulele’s are small and can fit nicely in the camper. Mike won a beautiful ukulele, just in time for Valentine’s Day and it goes without saying that is what I received from him for Valentine’s Day.    Now we need to get him one as well so we can make some music while on the road.  I took a lot, when I say a lot of pictures, I mean 570 of them and narrowing it down was daunting. I totally enjoyed myself and seeing things through the cameras lens.  We arrived early and stayed until about dark. It was a long day and a lot of fun.  It dawned on us that more than likely that was our last Florida State Fair for a while as we will be hitting the road before next years.

Weekend #7 took us to Lettuce Lake as we were looking for someplace close to hike.  We went with our besties, Nancy, Mark and Nya.  We first started with a great breakfast at 18 Bagels and then headed to Lettuce Lake.  I have been there before, however I did not remember it being so beautiful.  It has a great nature center and beautiful boardwalks.  We saw alligators, and birds galore.  The views were spectacular and it was a photographer’s paradise.  One day I hope to get their early enough to get some great pics of the birds.

There is not much more to say about either weekend except if you haven’t been to the Florida State Fair, you should go as it is a lot of fun.  Also, if you are in the Tampa Bay area, check out Lettuce Lake, it will not disappoint.

I hope you enjoy the pics from both weekends.

#sonya6000; #floridastatefair; #lettucelakepark #hiking; #travelphotography; #rvtravel